|“||I never existed at all. Heavenly fire burns away that which is evil. Jace survived Glorious because he is good. There was enough of him left to live. But I was born to be all corruption. There is not enough left of me to survive. You see the ghost of someone who could have been, that is all.||”|
Sebastian Morgenstern, born Jonathan Christopher Morgenstern, was the son of Valentine and Jocelyn, and the older brother of Clary Fairchild. As a result of experiments done on him by his father, Sebastian was a Shadowhunter born with demon blood. After a stint in Alicante when he posed as Sebastian Verlac, he decided to keep the name Sebastian as an act of defiance against his parents, though he reclaimed the name Jonathan during his last few moments without demon blood.
Jonathan was the firstborn child of Valentine and Jocelyn Morgenstern. While still in his mother's womb, Valentine gave Jocelyn doses of Lilith's blood as part of his experiments. Because of this, Jonathan was born with black eyes and was also eerily quiet as a child, much to the horror and repulsion of his own mother, Jocelyn. No matter how much Jocelyn tried, she couldn't bring herself to see Jonathan as anything other than a monster; nonetheless, she cared for him and kept up the facade of a loving mother since no one else among their friends and family seemed to be able to see anything disturbing about him. Lilith, on the other hand, saw Jonathan as her own son, so she watched him constantly and aided Valentine for him.
After the Uprising, Valentine felt so betrayed by Jocelyn and his parabatai, Luke Graymark, for their part in the opposition against the Circle that he took Jonathan and ran away with him. To accomplish this, Valentine had faked their deaths by burning down the Fairchild manor with Michael Wayland and his son in their stead, along with Jocelyn's parents, Granville and Adele. Jonathan had since been raised by Valentine in a small, remote cottage in Idris.
When he was young, he once asked Valentine about his mother. To dissuade him from asking any further, Valentine told him that his mother left because he was a monster, and that she was never coming back. Valentine furthered his psychological abuse and manipulation by telling him that no one except him will ever love a monster like him, leading to Jonathan's further psychological problems, making him the "monster" Valentine told him about.
Jonathan then continued to be trained into a soldier fit for Valentine's plans for the Clave and the Nephilim. He was taught the necessary traits he would require someday to fulfill, which he needed to learn without an experience of contact with other people besides his own father. He was also taught the skills that he would need to help Valentine bring down their adversaries. During this time, Valentine hit Jonathan, lashing him in the back with a demon metal-tipped whip to remind him of the "perils of obedience."
As a result of his cruel upbringing under Valentine, in addition to his demonic blood, Jonathan became a cold, heartless and bloodthirsty psychopath; even faster, stronger and more lethal than his father's other experiment, Jace. This, and multiple other interactions where Valentine poisoned his mind with lies, combined with his own views on his demonic alteration and it's assured domination over him, shaped Jonathan's outlook on life and people for the rest of his life.
While Jonathan was raised by his father secretly and in seclusion, he knew of the other boy, also called and raised as Jonathan, that Valentine was raising and training for the same purposes. Unlike the other boy, he was well aware of his father's plans, given almost full disclosure, and even knew when the other boy finally failed Valentine enough to prompt him to send the boy away. Despite knowing that Jace had also been experimented on, in his case with angel blood, he did not think much of Jace and saw him as his father's fake son—a competitor for the approval and attention of their shared father.
When Valentine left to spend time with Jace, a lonely and restless Jonathan habitually played tricks on Valentine, rearranging Valentine's papers, or hiding his favorite stele, and teaching Hugin and Munin how to tear people's clothes and take their hats off. This irritated Valentine, but he was at least relieved that Jonathan wasn't doing something more destructive.
The Mortal War
In 2007, in light of Valentine finally revealing to the world of Shadowhunters that he was alive, their plans were set in motion, as was Jonathan's role in it. Jonathan went to Paris and intercepted Sebastian Verlac, who was on his way to Alicante to represent his Institute. After briefly befriending the boy, Jonathan killed him, dyed his hair, and took over his identity.
Aided by the fact that the Penhallows had been out of touch with their Verlac cousin for so long, "Sebastian" was easily able to trick the family into taking him in during his stay in Alicante. Shortly after, the Lightwoods arrived to also stay with the Penhallows. As Sebastian, he was easily able to get close to both his sister, Clary, and the Lightwoods, with the exception of Jace, who was resentful towards the new boy. He befriended and flirted with Clary, offering to help her search for the cure for Jocelyn by taking her to Ragnor Fell and the Fairchild manor, and at one point even kissed her.
To finally move with their plan, Sebastian finally climbed the demon towers of Alicante and used his demon-laced Shadowhunter blood to deactivate the wards, thus allowing Valentine's demon hordes to infiltrate and terrorize the city. Upon accomplishing this, Sebastian dropped his guise and joined the demons in their killing. He returned to the Penhallows home and attempted to kill Isabelle Lightwood, despite showing a fondness for her, and succeeded in brutally murdering her younger brother, Max.
Just as the Lightwoods' traitorous tutor Hodge Starkweather was about to tell Jace, Clary, and Alec where the Mortal Mirror really was, Sebastian killed him. Tired of his disguise, he finally revealed himself to them as a spy for Valentine. The three of them, later joined by their vampire friend Simon Lewis, engaged him in battle; Sebastian bested them, enough that even Jace was surprised, but retreated before the battle could get worse.
He was once again tracked down by Jace soon after. He and Jace had a brutal fight while the rest of Idris fought against Valentine's demon hordes. Isabelle arrived at the last moment and cut off Jonathan's hand with her whip, giving Jace the opportunity to fatally stab him in the back with a dagger, breaking the demon boy's spine and simultaneously penetrating his heart. His body fell into the river.
Having witnessed Jace's resurrection by the angel Raziel, Lilith, knowing that it could cause an imbalance between life and death, saw an opportunity to bring her "surrogate son" back to life. She immediately recovered Sebastian's corpse and set to work.
By manipulating and tricking Jace, Lilith was able to perform a twinning ritual that bound Jace and Sebastian in a demonic form of the parabatai bond, with Sebastian as the dominant of the pair, even in death. She later staged a resurrection ritual for Sebastian's revival, with Clary present as leverage against both Jace and the Daylighter Simon, whose power she needed directly for Sebastian's return. While Lilith was unable to finish the ritual before she was defeated by Simon's Mark of Cain, an unwilling Jace, due to his new connection with Sebastian, was forced to complete his ritual. After the ritual was completed and Sebastian was brought back to life, he left New York with Jace, who was now under the influence of the twinning ritual and did not have to be forced to work with Sebastian, with the demonic bond exploiting Jace's darker impulses, leaving him under Sebastian's indirect control.
For weeks, several teams of Shadowhunters were sent by the Clave to search for Sebastian and Jace, believing that Jace was a prisoner of Sebastian. After two weeks of a futile search, the Clave decided to reduce the amount of resources used to track down Jace and Sebastian, and instead refocused on restoring the wards that were destroyed during the Mortal War.
During this time, he and Jace had been staying at Valentine's dimensional apartment, moving between worlds and countries at ease while Sebastian accomplished tasks as part of his plan. Eventually, the duo returned to New York, particularly to the Institute to pick up some books on summoning. They both then went to where Clary was staying to convince her to join them. During the first night, they were caught by Jocelyn, and Sebastian ended up fatally injuring her fiancé Luke. While they had to flee then, Clary later agreed to go with them, but only because she intended to spy on Sebastian.
During Clary's stay with them, Sebastian hoped that Clary was truly on their side but still had his reservations. Nonetheless, Sebastian tried to get closer to her, telling her lies about their plan, making her believe that he wanted to save the world, in an attempt to earn her trust. Eventually, Sebastian began to flirt with Clary, much to her disgust. Also, Clary soon found out his true intentions. When he learned that she was spying on him, he tried to rape her, making it clear that he wanted to be with Clary as they were the last of the Morgensterns. Sebastian also revealed that he knew Clary had been communicating with her friends through faerie rings and that, in fact, he had been using the ring, without her knowledge, to communicate with the Seelie Queen. Nonetheless, Clary was able to contact her friends once more to tell them of Sebastian's plans at the Seventh Sacred Site at the Burren in Ireland.
Eventually, Sebastian was able to gather up enough allies and supplies and finally had the Infernal Cup created. At the Burren, he summoned Lilith and created the Endarkened Shadowhunters with the Infernal Cup, intending to make Clary one as well. But, before he could Turn every one of his followers, the Clave's forces arrived at the Burren and stopped him. During the fight, his bond and subsequent hold over Jace was severed by the heavenly fire of Glorious. Sebastian's new army was depleted, save for a few who made it out with him, and they were forced to retreat.
Some weeks after, Sebastian began a chain of attacks on Institutes around the world, during which he managed to Turn hundreds of Shadowhunters into Endarkened Ones. His sixth attack was on the Los Angeles Institute, where he Turned most of the residents, including the Institute head Andrew Blackthorn and tutor Katerina, as well as kidnapped the half-fey, half-Shadowhunter Mark Blackthorn. Amid the chaos, he was stabbed in the heart by Emma Carstairs, but due to his new powers, bestowed upon him by his "mother", Lilith, he was able to leave unscathed.
Prior to this, Sebastian had forged a secret alliance with the faeries and the Seelie Queen, with whom he was having an affair, and thus had their support during the attacks. Aside from this, the fey representative on the Council, Meliorn, spied on the Clave for him.
After a failed attack on the London Institute, due to the guidance of a ghost, Sebastian murdered all of the werewolves at the Praetor Lupus headquarters and burned down the building afterward. Before leaving, he stabbed Jordan Kyle in front of his girlfriend, Maia Roberts, as a message to the rest of the Downworlders that if they allied themselves with the Nephilim, they would meet the same fate as the lycanthropes of the Praetor.
Sebastian's attacks on the Institutes caused the Clave to call all Shadowhunters to retreat to Alicante. Shortly after they all arrived, Sebastian attacked the Adamant Citadel as a ploy to not only drive out the Shadowhunters to distract them from his true goal, but also to see what kind of forces the Clave could send out with advanced warning. It was also an excuse to see Clary and Jace. His plan ultimately succeeded, and he would have won against the Clave's warriors if not for Jace's heavenly fire, which forced him to withdraw at the last moment.
Later on, he paid Clary a visit at Amatis' house in Idris, where he once again made some sexual advances toward her as he suggested that he was willing to broker a truce with her, on the condition that she swore her loyalty to him on the Angel Raziel. His attempted assault on her was stopped once again by Jace, whom Sebastian secretly feared because of the heavenly fire in his veins.
After these events, he gathered up his forces in Edom with the assistance of the Seelie Court and prepared his attack on Alicante. They also succeeded in abducting the Downworlder representatives Magnus Bane, Raphael Santiago, and Luke Garroway in order to further strain the relationships between Downworld and the Nephilim. Also abducted from the dinner was his own mother, Jocelyn, whom he used as another bartering chip with Clary as well as a way to act out his pent-up aggression from what he saw as his mother abandoning him as a baby.
While Clary, Jace, Alec, Simon, and Isabelle managed to track Sebastian down to Edom, after having swindled the Seelie Queen to allow them to use the pathway to Hell from the Faerie, Sebastian sent some of his Endarkened forces, alongside the Queen's Faerie warriors, to attack Alicante while he waited for his sister to arrive.
When Clary and her friends entered his fortress, he was fooled by Clary's plan when she pretended to agree to rule at his side. She took advantage of the fact that he wanted to kiss her in front of the room of witnesses to get close enough to him to stab him with her sword, Heosphoros, which, unbeknownst to Sebastian, had been imbued with Jace's heavenly fire.
|“||I've never felt so... light.||”|
–Jonathan Morgenstern, City of Heavenly Fire
After being stabbed by Clary with the heavenly-fire-infused Heosphoros, the demon blood was burned out of his body, and with it the persona of "Sebastian", leaving only the little bit of Jonathan that remained uncorrupted by Lilith's blood. Unfortunately, there was not enough "good" in him to keep him alive for long. However, with the demon blood's influence gone from his body, his eyes turned their natural green color and he insisted that his sister call him by his true name, Jonathan, as "Sebastian" no longer existed as anything more than a horrific memory. For those last brief moments, Clary and Jocelyn were given a glimpse of who he would have been if Valentine had never experimented on him with demon blood—a kind and caring person with remorse for his actions. As someone who, for the first time since he was born, finally experienced life without the weight of demonic blood within him, he expressed his disappointment over never having been able to truly live and instead causing devastation and heartache.
Despite this, Jonathan knew he could not help them get out of Edom, since he had already sealed all of the portals with no possible way to leave the realm, yet he did what he could and ordered the Endarkened to stand down, and advised Jace on how to destroy the rest of the Endarkened so that they could not kill Clary, Jace, and their friends upon his death, after which there would no longer be anything to restrain them. With sorrow and regret, he informed a distraught Endarkened Amatis and her Endarkened comrades that he was sorry for creating them and that he never should have. Upon his instructions, Jace destroyed the Infernal Cup and, with it, both the Endarkened in Edom and in Alicante, killing them physically and freeing their spirits from the corruption of the Cup. Jonathan ultimately died in his mother's arms and his body was brought back to Alicante by Asmodeus alongside Jocelyn and a comforting Luke.
His body was then burned by the Nephilim, partially out of respect to his living family members, but mostly to make sure that he would be unable to return to life a second time. His ashes and Morgenstern ring were put in a silver box, much like or exactly the one Jocelyn used to keep mementos of him, which Clary took and tearfully scattered across Lake Lyn's waters.
Unbeknownst to many, the Queen gave birth to a child born from their union. Around five years after his death, the Spiral Labyrinth told the Clave of a weapon, one "left by Sebastian" with the Seelie Court, that the Unseelie King gained access to. The weapon was their son, whom the Queen named Ash, whom the King hoped to one day become capable of nullifying Shadowhunter powers and eventually destroy them all.
Personality and traits
As a result of the demon blood experiments and his cruel upbringing under Valentine, Sebastian grew to become a cold, heartless, and bloodthirsty psychopath.
He was a master of manipulation and lies, much like his father. He was trained to become an effective spy, even charismatic and charming when the situation warranted it, just as he did when he was in the guise of Sebastian Verlac. He was able to keep up the facade of the calm, naive, helpful, funny, and generally good boy—traits which he had picked up the day he met and killed him—very convincingly that no one became suspicious until it was too late. Despite this, Sebastian was still simply cruel, vindictive, and arrogant underneath the act, showing absolutely no sense of sympathy towards any type of being—excluding his sister, Clary, and even Valentine, in spite of the brutality of his upbringing.
Like Valentine, he was also devoted to a cause and towards a goal, motivated by little more than his selfish desires. In his case, it was not even the world and the hopes of ruling it—his main drive had become the desire to rule the world only with his sister and "brother", and to not be left utterly alone as a pariah. Clary noted that, beneath the endless void of evil, was an extremely lonely person who desired company and love, but had no idea that these things must be earned and not forced upon the person.
All this, however, was mainly due to the influence of demon blood on him, aggravated by Valentine's upbringing. Even Sebastian himself had debated the possibility of him ending up differently if he had been raised by Jocelyn instead of Valentine.
Nonetheless, after the heavenly fire burned away the evil in him, "Jonathan" expressed intense feelings of remorse over his horrific deeds as Sebastian. With his remaining strength, he did all he could to make amends by apologizing for all the harm he'd done, and by saving them from death at the hands of the Endarkened. Despite the influence of Lilith's blood over his thinking and deeds as Sebastian, Jonathan still felt personally responsible for all the devastation, both in deaths and the emotional heartache, caused by his actions. He expressed guilt for all the suffering his sister and especially his mother were forced through, finally acknowledging Jocelyn as his mother and asking for forgiveness for his deeds. Despite his assured death, he was nevertheless infinitely relieved to be free of the nightmare he'd had to endure under the taint of the demon blood, his final words exclaiming how he'd never felt so light.
Sebastian took after his father in appearance, looking very much like a young Valentine. He was tall and muscular and had a slightly slender frame. He had platinum blond hair, which gave his pale skin some color, and very dark, black eyes. He had a pale, elegant, restless face with high cheekbones. Sebastian also inherited Jocelyn's slender, graceful hands, and her long eyelashes. His bare back was striped with ragged scars, due to being whipped with demon metal whips while growing up under Valentine's care.
While posing as Sebastian Verlac, he dyed his hair black to more closely resemble him, which, according to Clary, did not suit him as much as his real hair color.
When he was stabbed with Heosphoros and the heavenly fire burned through him, the demon blood cleaned out of his system, his appearance and mindset changed to who he could have been had it not been for Valentine's experiments: his features became softer, his "evil smirk" no longer on his face, and his eyes changed from black to green—the same as Jocelyn's.
Skills and abilities
- Nephilim physiology: Being Nephilim, Sebastian possessed a variety of enhanced physical and mental abilities granted to him by the angel blood of Raziel in his veins and also by the angelic Marks of the Gray Book. This included enhanced strength, agility, stamina, and coordination, which only improved over time and practice.
- Demonic blood empowerment: The fact that Sebastian also had demonic blood, in addition to his own angel blood, directly extracted from Lilith as a result of Valentine's experiments, contributed to his superiority over normal Shadowhunters. However, this not only made him physically stronger but Sebastian also became almost purely demonic in nature and tainted his mind and soul with demonic influence.
- Use of heavenly weapons: As a Nephilim, Sebastian could also handle heavenly weapons with effect, since this would normally not work for other species. In particular, these are weapons made of adamas and forged by Iron Sisters, such as seraph blades.
- Runic magic: Due to the Angel Raziel's blood in his veins, he, like all Shadowhunters, was able to apply runes on his skin without any real danger. These Marks, in turn, gave varied effects that served to benefit the wearer.
- Magic: Both Sebastian and Valentine were practitioners of dark magic.
- Expert combatant: Trained from his youth, Sebastian was a very adept fighter and swordsman, even besting Jace in many encounters.
- Morgenstern family ring: A standard Morgenstern ring that Sebastian got from his father.
- Phaesphoros: A Morgenstern family sword once owned by Valentine. It is part of a pair, with the short-sword Heosphoros, and is the larger of the two.
- Teleportation ring: a magical silver ring used for instantaneous travel that once belonged to Valentine.
- A silver bracelet that read Acheronta Movebo, which means "I will raise Hell", derived from Virgil: "Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo," meaning "If I cannot move Heaven, I will raise Hell."
|“||Take London, my love, and turn it all to blood. My gift to you.||”|
|“||You're not my mother. Come. Watch this. Let me show you what my real mother has given me the power to do.||”|
–Sebastian antagonizing Jocelyn, City of Heavenly Fire
|“||Because we are alike! You are mine. You have always been mine.||”|
–Sebastian to Clary, City of Heavenly Fire
Jonathan had been obsessed with the thought of his sister Clary ever since he found out about her. When Valentine told him about Clary sinking his ship, he had dreamed (although he did not dream often) about her wreaking destruction as he would have, and in that dream he was proud of her. He believed that his sister might not be very different from himself. While she hated him, Sebastian loved and cared for her—at least in the way he knew how. Not only that, but Sebastian's sense of family was also warped, as he wanted to be with Clary, truly believing that they belonged together, not only as his sister but also as a lover. While the pair shortly seemed to bond during their time together, Clary's view of him eventually reverted back, if not worsened, when his true intentions were revealed.Ultimately, it was Clary that killed him by playing on his desire to be with her. When his body and mind was cleansed of its demon blood before he died, Sebastian tried to atone for his sins and apologized for his mistreatment of her.
|“||You should have loved me. I'm your son. You should love me now, no matter what I'm like, whether I'm like her or not—||”|
–Sebastian to Jocelyn, City of Heavenly Fire
Sebastian did not think much of his own mother, although he did resent her for not being with them during his harsh upbringing under Valentine. He often saw her as the woman who despised him and left him for it. Though he makes it well known that he dislikes his mother, he still pondered about what his life would have been like had she been with them and, like Valentine, secretly held out some hope that she would eventually rejoin them or that Jocelyn would still love him. He was even slightly sentimental about it as he kept the silver box, with his initials that held Jocelyn's keepsakes of him as a baby, in his room.While Sebastian burned due to heavenly fire, the dying Jonathan apologized to his mother for all the harm and pain he had caused as Sebastian, even referring to her as his mother in a sincere and caring manner.
|“||It's ironic, isn't it, Clarissa? We were Valentine's blood children, and he hated us. You because you took our mother from him. And me because I was exactly what he created me to be.||”|
–Sebastian to Clary, City of Heavenly Fire
Valentine had always meant for his son, Jonathan, to be his own, personal human weapon. He was raised cruelly, trained rigorously to improve on his superior abilities attributed to him by the experiments performed on him by Valentine even while still in his mother's womb. Valentine often whipped Jonathan with demon metal, to remind him of the "perils of obedience". Because of the presence of demon blood in his system, Valentine saw no need to show Sebastian mercy, thus raising him with more ferocity than Jace and with less constraint. Also because of his blood and Sebastian's own lack of compassion, Valentine saw Sebastian as superior to Jace, particularly when it comes to combat, as Sebastian is evidently more ruthless while Jace had a always tended to care too much. As Valentine accepted Sebastian as his primary soldier and weapon, he was kept almost completely in the loop of his plans.Despite his brutal upbringing, Sebastian still seemed to show a certain affection and concern for his father (if only because Valentine was the only person Sebastian ever had).
|“||I am Valentine's son. Jonathan Christopher Morgenstern. You never had any right to that name. You're a ghost. And a pretender.||”|
–Sebastian to Jace, City of Glass
- See more here
While his given name was Jonathan Christopher, he decided to adopt the name Sebastian, whose identity he had momentarily stolen, as an act of defiance against both of his parents.
Jonathan is a masculine name of English, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, French, and Biblical origins. It was derived from the Hebrew name יְהוֹנָתָן (Yehonatan) which means "YAHWEH has given". Meanwhile, Christopher is an English name derived from the Late Greek name Χριστοφορος (Christophoros) meaning "bearing Christ", a combination of Χριστος (Christos) and φερω (phero) "to bear, to carry". Early Christians used it as a metaphorical name, expressing that they carried Christ in their hearts. As an English given name, Christopher has been in general use since the 15th century.
Morgenstern is a German surname derived from the Middle German words "morgen" meaning "morning" and "stern" meaning "star." Combined, the name means "one who lived at the sign of the morning star." It could also be of Ashkenazic Jewish origin, from the Yiddish "morgn-shtern" "morgnshtern" (מאָרגןשטערן) which also translates to "morning star". The family has associated its meaning to the Bible verse Isaiah 14:12, which states: How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!—lines which Sebastian and Valentine had both learned to take quite literally and accept as the history of their family.
- In a deleted scene from City of Glass, Sebastian's encounter with the real Sebastian Verlac was told, during which he impersonated Mark Blackthorn—who's character was originally named Andrew before that name was given to his father.
- Sebastian never really felt attached to his birth name because he knew it also belonged to someone else.
- Jace's Clave file (when he was believed to be Jonathan) from the Official Clave Files, a City of Bones: 10th Anniversary Edition extra
- A young Jonathan, a canon scene drawn by Cassandra Jean, with the dialog written by Cassandra Clare.
- City of Glass
- An Illustrated History of Notable Shadowhunters & Denizens of Downworld
- Becoming Sebastian Verlac, a City of Glass outtake
- City of Fallen Angels
- City of Lost Souls
- City of Heavenly Fire
- Queen of Air and Darkness
- Lord of Shadows
- Behind the Name: Jonathan
- Behind the Name: Christopher
- House of Names: Morgenstern
- Morgenstern at Ancestry.com
- City of Bones